January 2, 2021
Our story today, told by Dagoucin, is of a young man in Paris who is offered the opportunity to join the king and two other young men at a banquet with the four most beautiful girls in the kingdom, but who feigns illness in order to remain faithful to his wife—and to another beautiful woman whom he sees and loves “in the perfection of true love.”
Parlamente offers qualified praise of this man’s virtue, laughing and observing that “He’d have shown even greater love for his wife, if he’d done what he did for her sake alone.”
The discussion following this tale includes a lengthy commentary on the relationship between body and soul from Oisille, who observes that the body experiences peace and contentment and remains unmoved by fleshly desires when it is inhabited by the soul. “Those who cannot experience such contentment,” she says, “are men of carnal natures, who, being too much enveloped in their flesh, do not even know whether they have a soul or not.”
Renja Salminen suggests that the gentleman in this tale who arranges the meeting with the four beautiful girls for the king and his friends was likely Jean de la Barre, Provost of Paris from 1526-1534, a close associate of François I. Here is a drawing of him by Jean Clouet at the Musée Condé in Chantilly (MN 163; B 13).